Recently, myself and my brood went to Six Flags Over Texas to celebrate our tenth annual Gotcha Day and it was the first time in many years I’ve been small enough to get on the rides there. So, in addition to rediscovering my crippling fear of heights thanks to the Superman Tower of Power, I got to ride many rides I haven’t ridden since I was in my early twenties.
Since I used to live in the area, the kids and I used to go to Six Flags all the time and one of our stops, no matter how silly it was, was Yosemite Sam’s Gold River Adventure Ride. This lazy boat ride through a cave populated by Looney Tunes Animatronics that moved a little less every year thanks to good old-fashioned neglect was a great place to kick up your aching feet and enjoy some air-conditioning on a hellishly hot Texas day.
The kids loved it… I loved it. No matter how old and cynical we got, we all enjoyed the ride and had a lot of fun going through it. We had the scripts memorized, we knew all of the ride’s quirks, and when something stopped working or, on rare occasions, when something what was broken was actually working right, we knew it.
My fondest memory was taking my grandmother on the ride. She was elderly and didn’t ride much when we went, but we put her on the boat and she loved it… particularly the minuscule drop that Sylvester and Tweety sent the boats down. My grandmother screamed, laughed, and then cursed and laughed some more. That’s a memory I will always cherish.
This last visit was the first time we’d been to the park in a few years. We’ve moved from DFW and hadn’t been to Six Flags in about three years and, in those three years, Yosemite Sam’s Gold River Adventure died a very sad death.
In 2018, Arlington was hit by massive floods and the Gold River Adventure was not spared the wrath of nature. Although details are a little sketchy, the Gold River Adventure was supposedly eight feet underwater, the boats smashing into props, animatronics, sets, and the ceiling. According to some sources on the internet, the ride will never open again.
This is, of course, tragic… as I said, my kids and I loved the ride and its etched into our memories forever.
However, another memory of the Gold River Adventure exists for me… a distant, faded memory of strange creatures living in a cave and playing otherworldly music… a crashed pirate ship and a rotating tunnel.
They were called Spee-Lunkers and the ride was called Spee-Lunker’s Cave.
My memory of the Spee-Lunkers is hazy at best. The ride closed sometime in the early 1990’s and, at that time, a trip to Six Flags was a once every few years thing for my family.
What I do remember is that I loved it… it was something strange and unusual, a little scary and a little magical. Am I looking at it through rose-colored glasses of nostalgia? Most likely, but that doesn’t make me love it any less.
From what I remembered, the Cave was a weird little ride. When you first entered, you could hear the strange music of the Spee-Lunkers as they played their instruments inside. The animatronics, as I remember, didn’t move a whole lot – perhaps they suffered the same lack of maintenance that Yosemite Sam and his gang suffered – but I do remember blacklights and strobes. The Spee-Lunkers were aliens, I think, who lived underground and wanted to explore the world above.
To that end, you journeyed with them as they went through a storm at sea, through the wreck of a ship, through a rotating tunnel, and then… and I know I’m forgetting things here… you ended up at the Alamo because Texas.
I’m sure the ride was a lot cornier than I remember and the Youtube videos of it doesn’t really help as they are filmed in blurry and grainy camcorders but, if you ask me, this is the perfect time to bring them back.
Sure, I know Six Flags loves its IPs and right now, Looney Tunes and Justice League rule the park… but why not bring back something nostalgic and different? Something that is unique to Six Flags Over Texas and no where else in the world? Bring the Spee-Lunkers home with the latest technology and make the ride even weirder and scarier. Yosemite Sam is fine, but you can see him on TV anytime you want. A Spee-Lunker, however, would be a special experience.
I’m sure that the good folks at Six Flags are wondering what to do with the space that the Gold River Adventure used to inhabit, but I urge them all… instead of looking to the future, look to the past instead! It’s long past time that the eerie music of the Spee-lunkers echoes through the Cave at Six Flags once again.